Friday, March 5, 2010

Manolis Glezos Sent to the Hospital by the Greek Riot Squad

That's absolutely right: Manolis Glezos was sprayed by a unit of the greek riot squad earlier today. 88-year old Manolis Glezos, one of the two people who removed the german Nazi flag from Acropolis on 31 May 1941, the person who declared last year that it is the traitors & not the freedom fighters who need full-face masks, was sprayed earlier today: with chemicals, full on the face, by a helmeted riot pig, during a workers' demo, & in front of the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. He was promptly removed from the area & carried to a hospital by his comrades, after he passed out. (If you feel like cringing at the ignominy of it all, here's a link with pictures.)

The symbolism of this did not escape those who paid a modicum of attention to the events that unfolded today. A commentator in good ole tvxs summed it up wonderfully as follows:

' The point is that Glezos fell wounded in front of [the Monument of] the Unknown Soldier, struck by a greek employee of the Greek State, at the same time that the Head of [that] State was begging in Germany - only to hear that Acropolis should be sold... Isn't history a bitch? '

Another commentator in the website of greek liberal paper Eleftherotypia wrote:

' People, this one cross-checked: Glezos attacks the riot squad cop after he has been sprayed, which [cop] retreats three steps like a chicken...

Manolis, the Tsoliades salute you. Were we there, we'd have climbed down to kick that riot squad cop. '

If this post is authentic - that is, if it indeed comes from a member of the Presidential Guard (known as Tsoliades, a.k.a. Evzonoi) - its symbolism & meaning cannot be brushed aside lightly...

I'll stop here for now & hopefully add more to the post tomorrow. Until then, let me close with my very own 'Isn't history a bitch?' anecdote: as I read today, Ministry of Interior employees took over the presses at the National Printing House of Greece. This activism aimed at disrupting the printing of the new issue of the Official Government Gazette, namely the one containing the law with the new economic measures. [A greek law is validated once it appears in the Gazette.] Tantalizingly, this brought in mind the following excerpt from L. Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution (excerpted from Max Eastman's 1932 translation, which can be found in its entirety here):

' At the same time General Khabalov issued an edict – prepared in secrecy from the government – declaring Petrograd, on His Majesty’s orders, under martial law. So here too was an attempt to mix hot with cold – hardly intentional, however, and anyway of no use. They did not even succeed in pasting up the declaration of martial law through the city: the burgomaster, Balka, could find neither paste nor brushes. Nothing would stick together for those functionaries any longer; they already belonged to the kingdom of shades. '

She is a bitch after all, isn't she?...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Greece & Immigration part I: Agios Panteleimonas

I recently finished reading Yorgos Liolios's "Skies tis Polis (Shadows In The City)" (Eurasia, 2008), in which the author attempts to map out the chronicle of the decimation of Veroia's (a small town near Thessaloniki & Liolios's birthplace) jewish population during WWII. Liolios is a rare (non-jewish) greek voice when it comes to the greek jewish element & its near-extinction - yet, the voice I wish to borrow for the beginning of this post belongs not to him but, rather, to a survivor he interviewed. In the following excerpt, the reader gets to read about a specific incident in the life of a group of jews who fled the town before being rounded up & ended up spending the next couple of years hiding out in the nearby Vermio mountain. As usual, the translation is mine.

'[...] In that ambush in Sykia, on 3 March 1944 (according to [S.] Dordanas['s book 'Blood Of The Innocents'], on 2 March), for the discovery & punishment of locals collaborating with the guerilla groups & arming the village, a resident of the village betrays the illegal presence of the jews to the germans. With the betrayer leading them, the germans arrest the male jewish population that they discover hidden, along with their families, at the position Anilio (to this day, the area is called 'jewish well' by the locals) & they drive them to the church at the village center, where they subject them to violent humiliation. The only villager who had the courage to object was, once again, the priest Nestoras Karamitsos, who - witnessing the scene from his house's frontyard - raised his voice towards the germans & demanded that they stop the humiliation. The priest's strong opposition was countered by a sole greek collaborator of the germans who retorted "Stop it, father, for I will come over there & pluck out your beard hair by hair."

The results of the germans' ambush at the village were devastating for the local population. As retort for the cover the [villagers] offered the jewish families, the germans burned down, that same day, a total of eleven domiciles belonging to those who assisted the protection of the jews & the actions of the guerilla groups. Those houses belonged to Christos Vitos of Theodoros, Ilias Karamitsos of Nestoras, Christos Karamitsos of Dimitrios, Apostolos Kourtesis, Georgios Lanaras of Athanasios, Dimitrios Lanaras of Athanasios, Ioannis Damtsios, Christos Strympinos, Argyrios Tetos of Nestoras, Christos Meliopoulos &, naturally, father Nestoras's house. Additionally, the germans did not spare the village school & four mills at the position Krasopouli.'

Reading this, I could not help drawing the parallels to a much more recent event relating, this time around, not to greek jews but to non-greek muslims. A certain father Prokopios, of the church of Agios Panteleimonas (in the athenian neighborhood bearing the same name), came into media focus for a short while this past spring because of his offering food & clothing to families of homeless afghan immigrants who sought shelter on the church's front steps. He came into severe critique by locals (according to other accounts, locals mixed with neonazis - after all, what with the newly formed parliamentary leg of neonazi group Golden Dawn scoring 23,000 votes in the recent european elections, one certainly does not exclude the other). According to this interview of his here (in greek), the opposers feared that his assistance will prolong the immigrants' stay at the square. He finally stopped assisting the immigrants (the church still hands out meals to 'both greeks & immigrants') but not before a case of arson against the church basement on May 26; the immigrants were chased out by locals ('They were terrified. Terrible events unfolded here.'); & a rather massive anarchist/antifa protest march was organized for July 07 & ended up right into the neighborhood.

Indymedia reports (in english) on that particular march & what came to pass during it can be found here & here). In short, the cops were proven to offer explicit coverage to the neonazis (by far not for the first time); this hospitable, if not outright charitable, gesture extended to the point of letting them operate from among their ranks with (ta-dah!) molotov cocktails. One of these molotov cocktails managed to vindicate the agent provocateur/common idiot that hurled it: things got out of hand & the cops replied with the usual violence (teargas, chemicals, flashbang grenades, all shot directly at protesters). The protection offered the neonazis continued all the way to the end of the march; pictures of the molotov incident found their way into greek media & led parliament member (& living legend) Periklis Korovesis to ask the corresponding vice minister Ch. Markogiannakis what he intends to do about it, if anything at all. (That is, indeed, the same vice minister/common scum that unleashed the riot cops on cretan farmers in late January - here, from 2:50 & on. Or that met the "infuriated citizens" of Agios Panteleimonas, a gesture widely perceived as a validation ticket that was cashed in that same night, when a local squat was attacked in plain sight of cops.) I did not check back whether the vice minister replied or not - you'll have to excuse me there.

But much of the above lies way into the future. Let's rewind, instead, to the point where Agios Panteleimonas came into focus - much sharper focus than father Prokopios ever did, in fact - as the embodiment of the newly crafted greek face towards immigration. Media attention started when a cop tore an immigrant's qur'an apart - & then stomped on it - during a raid (May 21); the immigrants paraded on the streets, demanding that their religion be respected (as the greek constitution explicitly states - but these are mere details for a police force that operates side by side with neonazis). Apparently, the protesters got a qur'an & a bible from aforementioned father Prokopios to deliver symbolically to the local police station; (surprise-surprise) the protest was met with teargas. A repetition of the protest occurred the next day, albeit in the center of Athens; it ended up in flying stones forging paths through teargas. "Minor" altercations followed - an immigrant molotov'ed the local PD (May 22); unidentified persons molotov'ed a basement acting as mosque (May 23 - & again on August 28); writer (& albanian citizen) Gazmend Kapllani honored an invitation extended by residents to present his book in the neighborhood (also May 23) to end up hunted down (in front of stationary cops) amidst cries of 'we fucked you in the civil war, we'll fuck you again now,' 'communists = betrayers' & 'death to the immigrants' (ah... yes... interesting detail in a comment to this post: Mr. Kapllani testified about this incident to the city council, only to hear from the mayor's mouth that he had 'forgotten to mention that the City of Athens had sponsored the event' - surreal...). These "minor" altercations, though, shy away from the pogrom of May 27, at which date locals & neonazis bashed immigrants while others were excelling in racist sloganeering.

& yet, the region's notability could have come much earlier, as the neonazis had been operating in it for at least a year. In an ironic twist of fate, the emergent symbol of the ensuing fight was not the aforementioned regional church but, rather, a playground. Of the ones with slides & swings, yes: locals & neonazis have been literally keeping it under lock & key (& guarding it) since May 16, you see. If on a summer's night the proverbial traveller arrived at said playground, he would be exposed not only to the same arguments one hears from xenophobes the world over ("immigrants gather here" & "immigrants raise criminality" & maybe "our neighborhood's noble maids are being terrorized") but to more outspoken ones: "the handkerchief'ed come here with their kids - & they bring sickness"; "immigrant kids soil the playground" (father Prokopios again: 'I, personally, asked the municipality to install 4 chemical toilets to avoid problems with dirt. Some claim that the [immigrants'] little kids soil the playground. If they were greek kids & had no toilets, where [else] would they go? They promised me they'll bring them, but we've seen nothing yet...'). & another one: "if we keep the playground closed, the afghans might stay away from our neighborhood" (father Prokopios: '[The problems started] this past year, with the presence of the afghans. Immigrants lived here before that, but they had been integrated &, in fact, people were renting & selling them houses. If you rent & sell your house, you're the one bringing the immigrants to your region. How can you then complain that your region is full of immigrants?'). The net result of this improbable barricading has been, so far:

* Ch. Tassoulas, a local activist & parent, getting beaten up in said playground on June 09, after escorting his kid there: this occurred at a moment when the playground had been opened up by antiauthoritarians & was empty, apart from the cops who were stationed there. Soon, he says (in greek), a crowd of about 50 neonazis & their local supporters gathered there, swore disgustingly (the kid was present), demanded that he leaves the playground (the cops were also present), & beat him up (t-h-e c-o-p-s w-e-r-e a-l-s-o p-r-e-s-e-n-t). After the assaulters & the police chief failed to convince him to leave, the latter wheeled off the activist parent to the local PD leaving the assaulting group [i]behind[/i] (& thus also "indirectly" granting them their wish). Mr. Tassoulas was kept there until a lawyer arrived four hours later. To add insult to injury, a journalist of the slimiest countenance (that's my personal, subjective assessment of said journalist, yes) apparently stated, on TV, that the victim had 'rented the kid for twenty euro'. (No, really - I kid you not.)

* A 'group of lawyers for the rights of immigrants & refugees' issuing a statement (September 10) criticizing the local PD, after they got there to offer legal help to an afghan who had gotten stabbed on Attikis square. The afghan was not transferred to a hospital, the sole eyewitness was also arrested & kept at the PD, no statement was taken from the victim, & - here it comes - "infuriated citizens" not affiliated with the police in whichever official way kept roaming the PD at will, examining the official paperwork, & watching the lawyers' moves while at it. (No, really - I'm not making this up.) Earlier, on June 09, parents & citizens were transferred by the police from the playground (which they tried to use) to the PD, after they got swore at & roughed up. Certain say this was done to protect them from the neonazis (why the latter group was not the one to get transferred to the PD is anyone's call). They ended up remaining in that same PD for hours on end, since neonazis had meanwhile gathered outside & were trying to get their hands on anyone who was leaving the PD.

* A slew of neonazi calls to gather on the square & shout 'Immigrants Get Out! Greece Belongs To The Greeks!'. (As somebody cleverly remarked, neonazis are not against illegal immigration: they are against immigration/mobility, period, as evident from their slogans & - why hide it - history.) Hundreds of people responded to these, counting the bystanders (nevertheless, this particular estimate is a tough one to make for someone like me who has not been there). What is more interesting than the psychopaths carrying shields (no, really: s-h-i-e-l-d-s) with the white power symbol painted on them is that certain of the speakers in these gatherings are recent defectors from the Nea Dimokratia (ND) camp (ND's still on power, at least up to the imminent elections).

* Immigrants getting beaten up under indescribable circumstances. Adverbs won't do: brutally, indiscriminately, casually, repeatedly. Prepositions won't do: with bats or crowbars, by five or ten people at a time, amidst racist slogans from a bullhorn or Wagner from a speaker, on top of all their misery, despite the cloak of invisibility they're as good as wearing for that elusive beast known as average citizen. Nothing will do, except for this: immigrants face our newly crafted, war-painted, Medusa mask. Countless are hunted like animals, families are forcibly removed from squares (July 15; in front of five riot cop platoons), immigrant-operated stores are trashed, & finally an immigrant gets stabbed (August 29, once again in front of cops; here in more detail, albeit in greek).

(Have I already mentioned that the same people cordoning off the playground suggested, in late June, that it be demolished & replaced by a fountain? Less surrealism, gentlemen, please - I'm prone to start thinking you had Marcel Duchamp's fountain in mind.)

We all know that the human mind operates in synthetic terms & has a knack for abstraction: the notion of 'pattern' gets introduced to describe similar events; that of 'causality' to link successive events; the other one of '(physical) law' to enable prediction of future events. Politics & political thought are unimaginable without either of these abilities, & the emergent question is, accordingly: what is our proverbial traveller to make of this mess?

If he lifts himself slightly off the ground, he might note what activist residents of Agios Panteleimonas have been claiming time & time again: little by little, assault by assault, the neonazis of Golden Dawn are trying to establish the region as an immigrant-free zone. According to some, the neighborhood has a long history of accommodating immigrants; according to others, it has a lot of problems; in either case, it's been slated for transformation into an ethnically segregated zone by the shitheads. Obvious question: are the shitheads paying close attention to people's reaction to assess the success of this experiment? The answer to this is somewhat of a moot point, as far as I am concerned: without their being backed by cops & effectively absolved by greek TV (every time they are grouped together with locals under the moniker "infuriated citizens"/"concerned locals"), the shitheads are the same nothing they have always been in this country (they remain just as dangerous, mind you). Hence, I'm inclined to believe, they need not worry about the people: they need to worry about maintaining the umbrella others are holding over their heads. (Certainly, somebody in the higher echelons must be watching, but I leave this to smarter people to establish.)

The police force, meanwhile, does not merely stay out of it - we're not talking about 'unrest in the ghetto' here. The police force assists the shitheads - either by turning a blind eye when they stab people, or by assimilating them in their ranks, or by arresting residents that do not silently condone the newly imposed status quo. The obvious question here is who has OKayed this collaboration? &, abstractions aside, it's a tough one to answer: the police force is a state body, & one with a mission of maintaining the state itself, while at that. As such, it is unthinkable that any administration - even the current, improbably incompetent one - will ever relinquish control over the police force. But that's where things start to get fuzzy: when the administration controls the police, does the latter not exert a certain force on the former, too? Isn't the aforementioned vice minister a covert totalitarian who he started his DA career in '72, under the colonels' junta's aegis? & isn't it the case that he was called in to clean up (with an iron sweep) what was left of the events of December '08? &, if this is all true, isn't it then the case that Markoyannakis is much closer - & explicitly so - to the most conservative elements in the greek police force (substituting outright repression for negotiation two weeks into his vice-ministerial duties, in the case of the farmers)? Who controls who? Riot squads are merely state's padding, & no padding can eliminate the shock of an impact entirely. The vibrations are felt, the padding is infuriated for being allowed (or ordered) to "lose face", & Pavlopoulos is replaced by ultra-conservative favorite Markoyannakis. & in this way the police force exerts, indeed, a force onto the administration; go figure who OKays what & in what order. If we are to believe a certain somebody who remarked that, following the junta's demise, the state apparatus was too busy cleaning up the army from junta sympathizers to worry about the police; & if we are to believe that what was not cleaned up among the cops is what evolved into neonazi tendencies (rumored to be commonplace among greek cops); if we are to believe these things, we do not need to worry about who OKays what. We only need to worry about cleaning up what should have been cleaned up long ago.

Finally - anarchists & leftists, who excel at synthesis & abstraction, seem to be somewhat of at a loss. Not for words - these come aplenty, although it's a dismal omen that they are dressed the shroud of decades past (was it Étienne Balibar who argued that communism's downfall may have been its not understanding of nazism/fascism? Probably not - I forget). They're at a loss for actions - demo: check; playground liberation: check; & also for some - fight cops & helpers: check; anything else? Yes, there's something else: for example, the following letter which appeared in Avgi (the official newspaper of the radical parliamentary left) - how's that for the fans of synthetic & abstract thinking?

'I live in Fylis street, by the brothels, & I have never signed to have them removed, although the sight is revolting. The girls at the[se] "houses" do not annoy & the "clients" come & go. There has never been violence centered around the brothels. Nobody asks publicly, any more, to have them removed, although everyone would like to not have them in our neighborhood.

The war, though, between anarhists [armed] with planks & "Golden Dawnists" [armed] with crowbars, indeed with police coverage for the latter, conceals the real & serious problem of crimilnality in the region. It's indeed unsavory for the "playground" to be kept under lock & key, but the fact that the war between the[se] two mechanisms focused, in the end, on the "playground" evokes a too real semiology, don't you think?

The neighborhood attests to a war between mechanisms, it watches it mostly on TV, & it knows that all these [events] play themselves out in her absence. Does anyone think that the Agios Panteleimon square is what we call the neighborhood square? You're wrong. Some aged greeks are the only ones frequenting it for their cup of coffee.

Do you think that the far-right locals got organized to throw the immigrants out of the neighborhood's squares? You're wrong again. Why has Victorias square been established as the place where african & pakistani street merchants sell their goods? Did anyone ever throw them out? The only ones that did, to your surprise I expect, was about a hundred muslims, recently, after their first protest march in Omonoias [square] for the torn "Qur'an".

They're the only ones, then, that viciously drove away the people from the nearby coffeeshops & trampled underfoot the poor immigrant street merchants from Victorias square! I was there. This piece of information cannot be denied.

Did you ever hear a "far-right" resident of my neighborhood get annoyed by the 15 poor pakistanis living peacefully across me, in the small apartment on the first floor, which they maintain cleaner, more cheerful, & tidier even from my own one, even though they live one on top of each other in there? One on top of each other, but civilized, with dignity, & social.

Did you ever hear a "far-right" resident of my neighborhood have an issue with the 2 syrians who live next to me & [with whom] we exchange good morning's daily & with a sincere smile? Or maybe an issue with the pleasant polish, bulgarians, africans, russians, & albanians of my apartment building?

Any issue with the astonishingly beautiful polish woman - owner of the grocery store in my neighborhood? Did you ever hear anything about the multitask carpenter, my albanian neighbor, with his beautiful & full of dignity family? For the most kind & doll-like albanian baker, who has turned my bread-buying into one of my most pleasant daily activities?

I am thinking that, were I living in an apartment building next to which two immigrants have been murdered by other immigrants in the last ten years, I could possibly be feeling somewhat insecure at night. I summon the sight of vicious, & I mean vicious, fights between immigrants, which I have witnessed four (4) times from my balcony... They were not neighboring immigrants, they were "bar" goers, drunk...

The end of the fight found one immigrant lying unconscious on the street for more than 15 minutes, until the police came... I momentarily lost it. I thought he was dead. I summon the hailing gunshots which are heard periodically, once a month, maybe twice, at my neighborhood's horizon... I never learn what happened, probably for lack of dead.

I think about how everyone reacts when I tell them that I live in Agios Panteleimonas in Acharnes. Always the same reaction, the same discussion. There's no need to explain. You understand [me] perfectly well. But perform an experiment: suggest to your friend that you go out to the Agios Panteleimonas square for a Saturday afternoon coffee or a Saturday night drink. You're laughing, right?

I will dwell neither on a political nor on a social analysis. It makes no sense. What does make sense is that the rational ones among those interested realize that the tactic of mechanisms fighting each other, the planks, the flying fists, the characterization of neighborhood residents as far-right supporters, the irresponsibility of anarchists & of fellow travelers it the best recipe for war in Agios Panteleimonas in Acharnes.

The best recipe for war on the neighborhood's back, the best recipe for putting serious criminality under an umbrella, for the victimization of the entire body of the neighborhood's immigrants, for the "Golden Dawn" to establish itself firmly & with demands to be met in Agios Panteleimonas, for me to finally leave my neighborhood where I have been living since I've been 15 years old.

Do the armies of anarchists & "Golden Dawn" need to suffer seriously injured or even worse before those rational ones who have been engaged by inertia in the perilous fest of the playground take a step back from irrationality & violence? Does the social principle of self-fulfilled prophecy have to get into action, & the region's regular residents to be convinced that they are far-right supporters & that only the far right extends a sympathetic ear, whence they owe to vote for & support the far right?

& a super quiz

I will have you squeeze your brain & I'm certain that, even so, you won't find the answer! Nevertheless, this may urge you to think deeply. &, foremost, carefully. Who is the german politician who uttered, in a workers' public gathering: 'We will not let the men & women of this country lose their jobs to the badly payed foreign workers'?

It's Oscar Lafontaine's statement, during a speech of his in front of a working class-derived audience in the city of Chemnitz , East Germany, in 2005, who has been in charge of the new left wing party 'Die Linkspartei - PDS'. (Taken from Vasiliki Georgiadou's book 'The Far Right & the Consequences of Acquiescence', Kastaniotis 2008, p.41.)'

Let's leave our proverbial traveller with his feet dangling a few hundred feet off the ground & postpone taking a look at the 'broader picture' for the next post - sometime after Sunday's parliamentary elections. Let's close, instead, with the following excerpt from Yannis Makridakis's historical novel "Anamisis Ntenekes" (Estia, 2008) which fell serendipitously in my lap a few days after reading father Prokopios's interview - it makes for some excellent reading.

'[...] Every once in a while, until recently, a priest would enter the coffeeshop, only to regret his decision the very same moment he'd set foot in there. The good samaritans were calling to him to preach the word of merciful god to the sinners, they were yelling at him to put reason in them, to get them back on the righteous path, to tell them that the refugees [arriving in Chios from Turkey circa '14] are [also] people &, in fact, dispossessed people since they lost the[ir] country, the[ir] home, the[ir] belongings, the[ir] kin.

The rest were taking him up to the task for society's paralysis, they were telling him to begin with the blessings, the litanies, the summons to virgin Mary, to exorcize the bad, so that the village can regain its calmness.

The priest would [thus] get into an untenable position. What should he do? To preach christianity from scratch, to swim against the current once again, as Christ once did & got crucified [for], to risk losing half or more of his congregation to defend the refugees & to align himself with the voices of a few who could not secure his sustenance? Or should he align himself with the majority, to hand out aphorisms & preaching, to compromise himself in the eyes of the few, the educated, the rich captains who had refugees working for them & were always fast to tell of their kindness & nobility?

Using half-uttered words, he would try to keep a foot in each vessel; as a good christian & a good villager, until he could succeed, with effort, agony, & sweat to unhook himself from the coffeeshop & never set foot in it again.'

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Greece: update #2

  • A demo had been announced for Saturday, February 14 to express solidarity to those on trial for December's events (18 of which will be tried under the anti-terrorism law). It collected 1,000-1,500 people according to athens.indymedia, a somewhat-far cry from the demos one-two months ago. The cops made sure that nobody could get close to the parliament; no idea whether the demo intented to in the first place, of course... meanwhile, the following is a communique by people who suggested that as many people print it out & distribute it in Psyrri on Saturday night (Psyrri plays a central role in athenian entertainment; all the more show on valentine's day, I guess...).

Everything was in place

Everything was in place! The starving in Africa. The "specialists" on TV. The "bad ones" in prison. The "anarchists" in Exarchia square [according to a slew of greek governments, Exarchia square is the Greek Anarchist HQ; more importantly, essentially all anarchists are supposed to be contained in that region... see also the article 'Exarchia square is everywhere' here]. Those deciding in the parliament. Our money on loans. The police around the next corner. Our houses to the banks. Our enemies in Turkey & Macedonia. Our parking spots in the parks [a reference to the recent events in Kyprou square, where the municipality of athens cut down the trees in the neighborhood's last park so as to commence construction of an underground parking].

Our entertainment in the bars. Our kids at school. Our friends in Facebook, Art in museums & galleries. Our desires in advertisements. Our trees in Syntagma square in Christmas [a reference to the mayor of athens's decision to protect the city's Xmas tree at all costs, including by surrounding it with a riot squad - the surrealistic video can be found here]. Beauty at dieting institutes. Love on 14 February. We in between four walls.

The End Of Discipline. [The Beginning Of] Magical Life.

Those starved in the parliament, the specialists in Exarchia square, the bad ones in dieting institutes, the anarchists in museums & galleries, those deciding on 14 February, our money in Syntagma square on Xmas, the police in Africa, our houses in the parks our enemies in Facebook, our parking spots in the banks.

Our entertainment at school, our kids in the bars, out desires around the corner, our art on the loans (I'm not gonna pay, I'm not gonna pay),

Our trees on the streets
Beauty on the streets
Love on the streets

In between four walls?

december's love children

  • Meanwhile, unemployment is raging - especially in the north, it seems. Recently, 200 workers descended from Naoussa to Athens & camped outside the ministry of economics for about 32 hours. They represented a total 1,200 of workers employed in the local spinning mills (run by the Lanaras family) who have not been fired but have nevertheless left unpaid for 6 months. (Unemployment in the region is skyrocketing, what with textile businesses moving out of the country & into neighboring balkanian countries.) They had been "assured" that the ministry will resolve the issue twice before; this time around, they got in print that they'll be paid for their labor (meaning they labor they have already put in, of course). Meanwhile, further increases in the prices of basic foodstuff seem to be coming; the ministry of development made public a list of a dozen or so companies that are profiteering - a boycotting movement followed suit, the scale of which I cannot assess. Amidts all these events, a group of people in Larissa (the city where people apprehended in December will face charges according to the anti-terrorism law) entered a super market, topped up a bunch of carts, exited the super market as it entered it (&, needless to say, without paying), & distributed the contents of the carts to people at the open air market nearby (information in greek here). Such actions have become more & more frequent in the last year or so; here also, as in many previous cases, the response of the people has been reported to have been positive. But, 4 people were apprehended; they will be reportedly charged with aggravated theft & are facing incarceration for up to 10 years... The following is the leaflet distributed at the open air market.

"Find it impossible" to remain apathetic in front of inequality, injustice, the pain & poverty that the capitalistic system gives birth to, we assume action that defies it. Today, we decided to expropriate items pertaining to survival from the Galaxias super market & to distribute them in the nearby open air market. That is, to reclaim the goods from the bosses by returning them to the workers, the unemployed & the retired citizens.

The goods on the super market's shelves are products of the workers' labor & not of the bosses'. These products belong to those producing them. To those sentenced [to work] in the work dungeons where they are blackmailed, terrorized, labor & occasionally murdered for a piece of the bread that they themselves make in the whole & which is snatched away by the bosses.

Our action is symbolic, as three carts [filled with] pasta, rice, & oil solve no problem once & for all, but we urge the citizens to stop accepting everything, to stop being alone & to pass on to the attack through collective actions.

- Let's reclaim what belongs to us
- Let's turn all we dream about into action
- Life without bosses


  • On a related note, & in order for people outside the country to understand what the political crisis in greece entails, in terms of the prevailing corruption, here's a list of recent facts:
  1. First, Panayotis Tzanikos, the former mayor of Amaroussion (Maroussi), got convicted recently by a final judgement to 12 months of incarceration for unlawful actions pertaining to the construction of The Mall. The name says it all - a mega-complex of shops which totalled about 12,000,000 visits in its first year, as detailed here - & which many Maroussi residents & some members of the municipal council opposed due to the environmental reasons from the very first moment. Those debating the complex's construction took their claims to the Council of State, which decided that the construction would be an uneven burden on the residential area; subsequently, the Hellenic Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning & Public Works brought forward a specific law that legalized everything needed for the complex to be constructed. Residents debated the law & took the issue to the State of Council, which decided that the law is unconstitutional & has delegated reaching a final judgement for May of the current year. (Further reaing - in greek - may be found here; The Mall has been constructed meanwhile, see above - a demo in The Mall related to the December uprising took place in 29 December, the video's here). &, what do you know - it has been claimed, by people active in this, battle that the Tzanikos trial & decision went largely unreported by greek mainstream media...
  2. The Thessaloniki Prefect, Panayotis Psomiadis, has just been convicted to a year of incarceration by the Three-Member Appeate Court (report in greek here) - apparently, the Prefect reduced a fine imposed on a gas station owner - issued by the former municipal administration for dilutting the gas in the station - from 89,000 euro to 5,000 euro. The question now is whether he'll step down & how, as greek law seems to be rather explicit on this point. (I vividly recall that, to collect my scholarship from the greek state while in university, I had to provide the department with a copy of my criminal record - which had to be blank. It'd seem rather strange to be able to head the Prefecture with anything but a blank criminal record, especially when you've been convicted for abusing your own authority as Prefect...) Psomiadis is clearly no Blagojevich, but still - so long & thanks for all the fish?
  3. The third bullet point relates to the ongoing Konstantina Kouneva ordeal, & it will be covered in detail in the next update. To keep the bitter suspense of insanity going, I'll just mention that OIKOMET's owner (OIKOMET being Kouneva's employer) is Nikitas Oikonomakis, a member of PASOK, the country's very own socialist party...
That's it for now, more coming this weekend hopefully.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Greece: update

Yes, back to popular demand & all that cheesy stuff. I'll keep doing this for as long as I can/find it meaningful. Also, in contrast to my previous attempts, I'll insert - possibly extensive - comments in between the translations to fill the gaps. So, here we go; my own comments will always appear in between square brackets ('[ this...]') - if you repost anything anywhere, please mention this simple fact!
  • The biggest battle waged right now is that of the solidarity movement to Kostadinka Kouneva - if you're not familiar with the specifics of the story, read up here (there's more info elsewhere & in other languages - use a search engine or follow some links around). Kostadinka has been in the intensive care unit for a month & a half now; the following is an interview with the psychologist who's been in touch with her while Kostadinka is hospitalized. (The psychologist's name is Katerina Matsa; she's the scientific director of the program '18 Ano,' a rehabilitation program for drug & alcohol abusers, & apparently a respected figure in the greek left.)

- This was a deadly attack. Not only did they throw acid on her [face], they also forced her - immobilized her & forced her - to drink it. & there are severe damages in [her] internal organs. The fact that she survived is linked to the force [of will] of this woman, of her decision to make it. As she herself said, the first victory is that she didn't die, as they would have wanted [her to]. The next step is that the truth surfaces - & to get to the bottom of this. & the third step, which she considers equally important, is that a mobilization of such [magnitude] occurs that no other people like[/in] her [position] exist, living in those conditions, being subject not just to exploitation but [in fact] to slave trading - & not to bow their heads [in submission]. That's what she wants, that no one bows their heads [in submission], that this horrible state of terror reigning in these professions does not call the shots any more.

As we're speaking, the situation has improved, the severe damages remain, [but] the implantations have started, they're being successful, but no one can say anything with absolute precision, although the prognosis seems to be positive.

There are permanent damages, but a fight will ensue to overcome all this. Because she herself wants it & because science had advanced. Once we've secured, as a movement, the material conditions for the best [possible] scientific treatment, I believe that this human being will be rehabilitated to a large extent. & she deserves it.

- Let us discuss further the psychological aspects. How did she react & is reacting to this whole situation?

- Admittedly wonderfully. That is, she's an immense force of will & [she] wages this battle with a lot of bravery, a lot of courage, a lot of heroism. She hasn't talked about fear, she mostly talks about her anger - why should this unfair attack, this barbaric attack, happen - & that inflates her decisiveness. She's very determined not to give up.

Yes, first off, she's being informed extensively & on her own initiative about what's happening, about the solidarity movement, for the large demonstrations but also the events organized in [various] regions. She's being informed about how many unions support her. Besides hers, the call for the large demo which took place in 22 January & brought together a crowd of 8,000-10,000, was extended by, how many, 60 unions. She herself knows this, she knows that there's an attempt in France also, [&] because [petition] signatures from well-known people - intellectuals, unionists - have started flowing in, she feels that finally the time has come for this slave trading to stop, for no more terrorized colleagues of hers, & for her to become a paradigm of someone who doesn't bow her head [in submission]. That was the first thing she told me: I want to be the paradigm of a human being that not terrorized.

- Does she realize that the has become, in a way, a symbol for this movement that has come into existence & how does she react to this?

- Yes, yes, yes, yes, she realizes it & we discuss this, & she herself considers this [turn of events], from a certain point of view, as a form of vindication of a struggle which didn't start now, which has had a large duration during which - before the attack - her life was being threatened & she wasn't stepping back. The threats, the anonymous phone calls were [along the lines of] 'if you stop bugging us, there'll be no consequences for you.' As the crisis[/credit crunch] is getting bigger, there will be plenty slave trading occurrences of this sort, & we have to resist this before it assumed terrifying dimensions. She also gives me courage for the daily battle, for the everyday struggle that needs to be waged by me & by everyone else. Thus, she's not a psychiatric patient in need ot psychiatric help, but this is [instead] a relation based on a common struggle for the same issue: the human being.

Those [cleaning] crews cannot do what they were doing in the past.

A demand of the solidarity movement for Kostadinka Kouneva is that the entire truth surfaces & the guilty party is identified & blame is distributed, no matter how high up [the social/hierarchy ladder] this blame goes.
  • The Opera House in Athens has been under occupation since the end of January [update: the occupation ended, read the final communique further down]. Their blog (in greek) has extensive info on what's going on; a communique in english can be found here.

(My own opinion is that we should estimate when this situation's limits are exhausted & leave (for the first time) without [bestowing the role of] fellow protagonist [to] the cops. We will be the ones who are the protagonists of this play. They don't interest us because... we have an aim & are focusing on it. Because they will delay us & disorient us, as always.)

I am optimistic.

I'm not afraid that, if we leave the Opera House, we''l "be lost." I've the feeling that we've changed since December... & we cannot turn back. I've that particular feeling saying that there's a heightened "physical" need for collectivism at all levels in people. Thus, irrespectively of whether we stay or leave the Opera House, we'll continue meeting, organizing discussions, reactions, actions, that is, we'll continue to EXIST.

Because, before December, we DID NOT EXIST.

& if we EXIST, we'll be led somewhere. At the first stage... success would be a daily life such as the one we've been living since December. An awakened daily life with interest towards public issues & [with] creativity. I am optimistic as [a result of] a rational process directed by feelings & not vice versa. & my simple rationale says that we have the basic elements to shape our bourgeois life, to make it better, & to [be the ones] defining it as much as we can. We have the need (or, in other words, faith), we have a large participation, we have momentum & we have endurance. But we need a space (house) to give shelter to our new self, who is still maturing, & to make our plans, to decide - without haste, democratically, in a focused manner, & successfully.


Citizen Of The World - Civil Servant Black Sheep - Citizen Of The Occupation

  • Next, a good piece of writing from the same occupation, posted here as a decent retrospective of certain things that have happened recently in Athens + for suggesting an ingenious way of communicating your message.

(The following document was inserted in at least 10,000 [copies of a] free press publication, naturally without requesting permission from its editors.)

Dear readers,

the publication you're holding in your hands is free of charge. This doesn't mean that it doesn't have a price. It seems, in fact, that the 'free-er' of charge something is, the larger the price. In this publication's pages, you ca find out which whiskey is the best, a new car, a good movie coming to a theater near you, the biggest super-spectacle that you must not miss, a restaurant, a popular theatrical play, a free of charge prognosis of your future, your financial situation, & your love life, & a lot of culture - & all of this, free of charge. [In it] you [can] find free of charge texts, free of charge opinions, free of charge ideas, free of charge nudity, free of charge fashion. Thus you can sit back on your couch, on the seat you found in the subway, or even better on your toilet bowl & "be informed" - free of charge. It's the easiest & cheapest way to find out what's going on in the city & to be[come] ready to consume the best whiskey, the new car, a good movie coming to a theater near you, the biggest super-spectacle that you must not miss, a restaurant, a popular theatrical play, & a lot of culture. But that's where the 'free of charge' ends. While you were being, free of charge & willingly, trained as a consumer, you thought you were just being informed.

The price you will pay is not only announced when you discard the publication & get out there, where consumption lives. The largest price derives form the illusion that you're now certain you know well what's going on in your city. But the things you'll find in this publication's pages is not everything happening in this city. There are some things happening in this [same] city which you'll never learn about from this publication.

In the weekend of 6 December, a 15-year old student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, was killed in this city's center form a cop who simply aimed at his chest & got it. In the center & in the neighborhoods of this city, as well as of every city/town, nearby or far away, thousands of people took to the streets to express their outrage for a life unfairly lost but also for thousands of other [lives] which are being lost unfairly [&] daily in the neverending hours of work-related slavery, behind school desks, at war, on TV, in a prison, at the [national] borders. The publication you're holding in your hands devoted one of its issues to "informing" you. It showed you free of charge photos, free of charge opinions, free of charge prognosis of your future. Even if it didn't succeed in divining your future, it never told you that nothing has ended.

It didn't tell you that, since those days belonging to Alexis, at least 300 persons are being charged because they protested for their life which is in the process of being lost. That, among them, at least 63 are still in prison, in between them underage people & immigrants which will face terrorist charges because they removed a cell phone from a smashed storefront.

No one told you that, since 23 December, Kostadinka Kouneva is being hospitalized in the intensive care with grave injuries in her visual & respiratory system following an attack with sulphuric acid as she was getting back home form work. She was yet another easy target & a paradigmatic target [at that]: she was a woman in the patriarchical society, an immigrant & a unionist in the cleaners' field who was fighting for christmas bonuses, insurance & humanitarian working conditions for her & her colleagues. In the society of exploitation, some women must be wounded or killed for something to be cheap or free of charge.

& it won't tell you that none of the above is alone. That more than 600 people celebrated New Year's Eve outside the Korydallos Prison Complex, with fireworks & slogans for the immediate release of all prisoners. That, in 27 December, ISAP's [Athens Piraeus Electric Railways] HQ [-] where Kostadinka Kouneva was employed [-] were occupied & that, since then, we often take to the streets to express our solidarity to any woman among us that goes on fighting.

But even if you find such a news item in the publication you're holding, it'll simply be [there] to keep you "informed" & apathetic on your couch, on the bus seat you found, or even better on your toilet bowl. Because it won't tell you that there are also things happening in this city which are being done by us. Which simply won't happen if we don't do them.

& it won't tell you about the orgasmic feeling of doing the things which happen in this city. It won't tell you that we continue being on the streets, sometimes in occupied town halls, sometimes in occupied theaters. That, if you hear a woman speaking to you through the subway PA with a real voice, instead of the usual robotic one, it'll be one of us [-] because we have a lot to say, but we cannot say them through this publication's columns since these things are not free but attached to a very high price. It's about the dreams we have regarding our lives in this city. We have dreams because we're still alive. & we're still alive because we're not waiting for Thursday to come so that we can learn what's going on in the city through this publication's pages.

If, on the other hand, you feel a member of a community of readers which live in this city & share the same things, believe us, it'll be over as soon as you put the publication aside. Then, you'll be left alone on your couch once again, on the trolley seat you found, or even better on your toilet bowl, while some of us continue the attempt of being members of a real community which self-organizes its desires & its actions in a collective manner. It prints texts such as the one you're holding, posters & flyers which are offered to you not free of charge but without a price, because the ones paying the price are us. Through them, we extend calls to self-organized actions which promote another culture rather than the culture of consumption.

We went through the occupations of ASOEE [Athens University of Economic & Business - their blog's here] & of the Polytechnic School, then through the occupation of GSEE [General Confederation of Greek Workers - communique in english here], of ESIEA [Athens Daily Newspaper Journalists' Union or, if you preder, Union Of News Editors HQ - details in english here], & the Irida occupation [blog here], & we're temporarily located at the Opera House Occupation, but don't worry, we shan't perish.

Opera House Occupation

Today, Saturday 7 February, the Assembly of the Rebelling Opera House, decided to depart from the Opera House, having won 9 days & nights of autonomy, liberty, creation, & self-organization in practice.

1st Act
We liberated the Opera House as a response to the straggling of free expression, to the imposition of counterfeit[/fake] desires, to the cementbombing of public spaces & to oppression. When even elementary rights are being trambled underfoot with chemicals, bullets, & sulfuric acid, the time to assume a stance has arrived.

2nd act
We made ours a symbol of status-quo art, redefining the relations between creator & spectator, teacher & pupil. For 9 days, a human mosaic that met each other in December, took shape through direct-democracy procedures & united politics with art, inside & outside the Opera House. We are not divided in artists & non-artists, we are life's budding flower.

Whoever thinks that the end of the occupation means the end of dissent should check their glee. We do not surrender culture to Niarchos, Lamprakis, or any other "specialist" [-] it doesn't belong to them anyway. Our presence & actions in the Opera House shows that not only is the distinction between "high level" & "low level" culture nonexistent, but also that [this assumed distinction] is an expression of authority-related structures which divide us & fence us off. For us, art is a combat field.

3rd act
We continue getting self-organized, expressing ourselves & acting in public spaces, acting & creating in togetherness on the basis of autonomy & self-organization.

This occupation has come full circle once already, [a circle] which contained us all. We'll continue as centrifugal cells, diffusing our common experience & dynamics outwards in every neighborhood, park, or street.

Along the lines of our mobilization, the workers & artists of Buenos Aires's Teatro Colon Opera expressed their solidarity in our experiment during their mobilizations against 500 job cuts &, in essence, the dissolution of the Opera.

Messages of solidarity arrived also from the Universidad National de Rosario in Argentina, from the movement 'Rebellious Women Of Brazil,' from Venezuela, & from the Popular Artists' Union of Ecuador (UNAPE). We stand in solidarity towards all these [people], & we extend a call to every worker to redefine his role inside the dominant relations & structures.

The artists of life are not the jokers of authority, We do not want to become human flashbang grenades in the artillery of psychological repression, but [rather] fireworks of joy & deep feeling on the road towards societal liberation. We invite people to assume the initiative for analogous experiments, to meet & to shape together autonomous experiments.

Solidarity to Konstantina Kouneva & to everyone continuing the struggle. Support those injured during the uprising. Immediate release of those apprehended.

Reclaim the public spaces. [Say] no [to] cement-bombing.

We stand in solidarity to the Palestinian people.

The streets are our theater - the uprising is our art.
Coming up: 4th act.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Flowers of Romance

As announced last time already, the previous post was the last in the series of translations of material related to the greek uprising of December '08. Rest assured that there's a ton to be discussed: the attack against three patrolling cops which left one of them seriously injured (& which, some analysts say, might - might - have been staged by some state-run, counter-insurgency service instead of by leftist urban guerrillas/misguided idiots); the ultra-violent suppression of the teacher/student demo of 8 January; the polarization (& politicization) of a bunch of people in greece following the recent events; the hard-to-believe (even by greek standards) level of apathy exhibited by the government; & so on. But, neither these nor other issues will be discussed here - this blog goes back to being a music blog, once I've taken the time to thank everybody who has made this attempt worthwhile by reading even a tiny bit of the information included in the last 7 posts: thanks; for as Subcomandante Marcos says 'we acquired a consciousness of language not as a way of communicating with each other but as a way of building something.' (Which is naturally impossible for a me(dioc)re translator to claim, but certainly true of some of the trench poetry translated here.)

So, as much as I'm reminded of an old comic strip - middle-aged man reading newspaper expresses his depression regarding the world situation: war, famine, the works; young woman sitting nearby tells him he's reading the wrong paper: to elucidate, she takes out hers & starts reading how wonderful the upcoming spring fashion collection will be... -, I'd better leave politics out of this blog & get started with the musical matter at hand. The Tribe4mian blog "beat" me to it by uploading quite a few posts on The Flowers of Romance, already, including an interview which I had never read before & which I, therefore, greatly appreciate. For more info on the band - & I mean both more than presented here and more than I know myself anyhow - check it out; it has quickly evolved into one of the handful of music blogs I check regularly.

By means of a little history, I was introduced to F.O.R. in the spring of '93 by means of Radio Acropolis: at that time, a 2-day festival with The Last Drive, F.O.R., Deus Ex Machina, & Panx Romana was being held in Thessaloniki (21-22 May 1993 & in Θέατρο Κήπου, to be exact). I was studying day & night for my final exams so, regrettably, I didn't go; but I did get to hear (& also tape, little archivist that I already was proving to be) the festival ad on the aforementioned Radio Acropolis quite a few times, together with interview snippets from The Last Drive & F.O.R.. (A couple of years down the line, I'd find out that the background music in that ad came from F.O.R.'s cover of 'Paint It Black' in the 'Love Means Death' 12".) A very bitter & very pyrrhic victory, indeed... The spark caught on, at any rate, & I was lured into F.O.R.'s work (how could it be any different, after all, since I was finishing high school & the band's 'Autumn Kids' - played in the same radio at the same time - refers to 1936; as I for years mistakenly thought did The Last Drive's 'Killhead Therapy' - by the power of association, as the track was also played in the radio at the same time...).

In the late spring of 1994, I came across a copy of the band's second LP, "Pleasure & The Pain" - I doubt I even knew at the time they had a first LP (no internet, remember?). (That must have invariably happened in Rollin Under - Lazy Dog's HQ, if you prefer - & probably in their Socratous location, although it could have in principle happened in the old room in Exadaktylou they operated their mailorder from.) That & Ξύλινα Σπαθιά's first record sure made my spring - unfortunately, although I managed to see Ξύλινα Σπαθιά three times in the coming few months (the standout being the first time - June '94 in Μύλος - where they ran out of songs & asked people which one they wanted to hear again...), it took way more to get to see F.O.R.. Various images graze my memory right now: asking a friend to notify me if 'any worthwhile bands, & especially Flowers of Romance, play the city' as I was getting ready to leave Thessaloniki & head back to my hometown for the christmas break; writing 4 verses from 'Pleasure & The Pain' in an ancient public computer (in fontsize 72 or something), printing it out on the then-usual dotmatrix paper, turning the printout into a stencil & then using it to spraypaint my room's door in order to commemorate my first lost love (I slept for 4 fucking years in that room, waking up to those verses - argh!); what the tape on which I recorded 'Dorian Grey' & 'Pleasure & The Pain' looked like (very much like the tape I recorded Purple Overdose's self-titled LP on, in fact); finding the 'Love Means Death' 12" in a record store on Egnatia which had the weird habit of being open once or twice per year (I kid you not; too bad I forget the name); finding the self-titled - promo, as it later proved - 7" in Rollin Under for 900 drachmas; having thought of listening to 'The Last Summer Night (On Earth)' on 08/08/99; & eventually spotting a poster one morning - blue border, B&W pic of the band (the same one appearing as 'Noiz mag (#40, June '97)' in the band's myspace profile) - advertising F.O.R.'s appearance in Μύλος (in the club of course, not in the much larger concert hall).

Of which the documentation is right under, freshly ripped during the vacation as promised to panelo8riambos, together with a small file with what material I have taped regarding the aforementioned 2-day festival, the "Love Means Death" 12," the eponymous 7". The latter two recordings are presented here essentially for completeness: assuming you have all three - wonderful - albums, & seeing as you can probably still get a copy of the "Channel Z" cd-single somewhere on the web, you'd be missing "Love Means Death," the eponymous 7", the track "Island in the Moon" (contained in the 1994 Nyctalopia CD release of "Pleasure and the Pain"), & the track "Amaradina" contained in Wipe Out!'s "Double Shot" compilation (& also in the Nyctalopia cd as bonus) - the track "Autumn Kids" (their contribution to Wipe Out!'s legendary & much sought after compilation "Wipe Out Presents 12 Raw Greek Groups") is also contained in the "Love Means Death" 12". If I missed anything (apart from the early demo, which I've been dying to get my hands on for 15 years already...), please let me know. & if you do have the demo, do drop me a line, I'd be grateful.

How about the former ones, then? Well, regarding the interview snippets & the like, there's little to be said - they're included here for the benefit of that miniscule group of amateur historians of the greek scene. Regarding the bootleg, now, the sound quality is pretty bad plain & simple - in fact, I was a bit heartbroken when, last month, I dug the tape out for the first time in ten years & listened to it. But hey, there's nothing I can do at this stage; in fact, there was little I could do at any stage, seeing as the show was recorded using my roommate's cheap, journalist-type tape recorder - the same one I had somehow broken in '94 at a Honeydive show by jumping up & down way too hard (to be young again & so on, indeed...). What does not help at all is the knowledge that the show was, indeed, all I had expected it to be - & I had spent a year or so listening to the first two albums pretty much every day, so I had improbable expectations; just look at the setlist & you'll get my point. (In fact, the show was so good that it couldn't even get mired by a bunch of girls from my old high school who walked in, annoyed the hell out of me by making fun of the band & being loud, & left after ten minutes; I guess the music didn't agree with their ethnic - or whatever was in fashion that month - sensibilities...) Unfortunately, I didn't find the time to dig out the poster; & unbelievably, I can't find a single picture of my room back then any more (where the poster was hanging), so I've no idea when the show took place. I promise, though, to rectify this next time I wreak havoc on my belongings from that time... At any rate, it must have been sometime in the fall of '97, as I remember talking to vocalist Mike Pougounas after the show (in my scale, mustering up the courage to approach him was not just bold - it was heroic, hence the memory) & asking him about the new album; it should be out in a week or two, he said. I spent six months looking for it, until one day it dawned on me to look into Rollin Under's miniscule cd section - I freaked out to see there was no vinyl release & they had moved from Wipe Out! to FM (which created some bad blood between the label & the band, but that's a story I've no desire to tell). At least I could hear the album right away this way, instead of waiting until I visited my parents where my record player was...

Enjoy the material; it's been a long time coming, but I hope you'll find it plenty. Yours truly makes a cameo appearance when he yells for "Amaradina" - ha!...

P.S.: As you'll notice, the small file with the material pertaining to the 2-day festival includes a super short interview snippet with The Last Drive. I chose not to include the track following it in the tape, as it can be found - in exactly the same version - in the "Noisecide/Drive Live" bootleg tape (collecting hard-to-find The Last Drive material) - see here, for example. Speaking of the snippet, the Drive mention that this track was recorded in 'the second winter of their existence' - indeed, their bio states that this track has been recorded live in February 26, 1985 at Kyttaro Club (Athens) & included in one of Di-Di's compilation tapes. (Wow! When I first found this bootleg track in this old tape, I never dreamed I'll identify it someday...)


Live at Mylos, Thessaloniki, Fall 1997 (bootleg)

IA01. Kashmir
IA02. Love
IA03. Who's Playing Jesus
IA04. Dear Prudence (The Beatles cover)

IA05. Winter Waltz

IA06. Fetish

IB01. The Royal Hunt of the Sun

IB02. Reptile Dance

IB03. Winning (The Sound cover)

IB04. Carnival of Souls

IB05. Pleasure and the Pain

IB06. All I Can Remember

IIA01. For the Wolf Within

IIA02. Bitch (unreleased)

IIA03. The Ocean Floor

IIA04. Black Snow

IIA05. In Blood Eternal

IIA06. The Crying Puppet

IIB01. Love Commandos

IIB02. There's Nothing We Can't Solve Together

IIB03. 1,000 Dying Words

Two-Day Festival (1993)

Αναγγελία Συναυλίας
(Radio Acropolis)
Διαφήμιση Συναυλίας (Rock Management)
Interview Snippet 01 (The Flowers Of Romance/Mike Pougounas)

Interview Snippet 02 (The Flowers Of Romance
/Mike Pougounas)
Interview Snippet 01 (The Last Drive/Alex K.)

Interview Snippet 02 (The Last Drive/Alex K.)

Love Means Death (12") (1992)

A. Love Means Death

B01. Paint It Black (Rolling Stones cover)

B02. Autumn Kids (originally in the "Wipe Out Presents 12 Raw Greek Bands" comp.)

Pleasure And The Pain/Winter Waltz (7") (1993)

A. Pleasure And The Pain (version)

AA. Winter Waltz (version)

Live at Mylos: two miles from the cage (IA , IB , IIA , IIB)
Two-Day Festival: three miles from the cage
Love Means Death (12")
Pleasure And The Pain/Winter Waltz (7")

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Riot Info #7

This will be the last post of the series, it seems; any new info will be added here this coming week, while I've half a mind (but not becessarily the time) to rework the hasty translations below. We'll see. For the time being, I'm out - on a trip & not coming back before mid-January. So long & thanks for all the fish, see you in 2009 again.

I am proud of the banner in Acropoplis (M. Glezos, TVXS, Friday)
[M. Glezos has been one of the two people who removed the nazi flag of the german occupation army from Acropolis in '41, a feat for which he was eventually arrested, tortured, & detained; see more here.]

- For 13 days, and following the tragic occurrence of a kid being murdered, we've been in a wave [of events]; could it also be called a revolt of the school students?

- It is a revolt. & I've already said, a long time ago, that we'll find ourselves against a revolt of the young, not because of the fact [per se] that there's always a chasm between old & young, but concerning the current issue: there have been problems concerning the youth for so many years, [that] an explosion is bound to happen. & then the occasion was realized. The drop that spilled the glass came & the glass was spilled. The biggest problem of all is the commercialization of education - that's [what] the youth experiences. It's not permissible, under any circumstances, that education is free &, at the same time, that a family spends tons of money so that their children can study either foreign languages or with a private tutor. [This is a purely greek phenomenon & one that plays an important role in these precarious or near-precarious times: that a very large percentage of university graduates are self-employed solely in private tutoring, often in a black market manner: no health insurance or paid vacation, as well as no taxes paid to the state.] Education has been commercialized, & there's an [ongoing] attempt that it becomes [even] more commercialized through universities, through the privatization of universities. Youth sees no future - that is, it'll study & become what? That is, instead of technology contributing to the decrease of working hours, to the decrease of working days, & to the decrease of working years, we've reached the debasement - because [it's a] debasement... - to be cheering because the European Parliament voted for the 48-hour week [instead of the recently discussed 65-hour week]. That is, I never imagined [that we'll retreat] that far back. Instead of going forward. The youth sees these [things] & revolts. Next to these one finds the indifference that youth experiences - no one listens when the youth speaks - [& also] next to these, when it protests the answer [it receives] is violence - & a point is reached where, when[/although] obvious injustices are committed in plain view [& going all the way] up to young people being murdered, those committing these crimes or injustices are left unpunished. & the drop that spilled the glass was added now. We have a revolt - & the revolt will not die down. The revolt will not stop. & the revolt will be reaching new dimensions, as many as possible. & what saddens me is that certain people, instead of comprehending this phenomenon, are involved into this whole spectrum [of methods] that have been unravelled to twist the [meaning of] the school youth's revolt. & what I mean [is this]: when [one] starts [asking questions of the sort] "fine, but why should damages be incurred [on private/public property]?" But I'd like [to ask] all those shedding tears for the burned-down stores, how many tears have they shed when a bank - the banks - have confiscated houses & stores, & thousands of workers entered [the working force as an unemployed mass]. There, there's no[t a single] tear - tears [only] exist for the current situation.
[&] where I'm genuinely aggrieved - I'm being honest here - is when certain people try to... - us, the fighters, who have been striving for justice since the olden times up to now - try to tell us that we have to distance ourselves, they say, from the "hooded ones". But fighters have never been hooded! Those hooded were the snitches squealing on the fighters. & so, [can you imagine that I am] being called to pedantically state that I condemn the "hooded ones"? The "hooded ones" are known to everybody!

- Understood. The kids taking to the streets today are your grandchildern, maybe even grand-grandchildern, your [own] children are of a certain age.

- Grand-grandchildern.

- Grand-grandchildern already. What do you have to say, with such an age difference & with the experience you possess, to those kids who're in the streets today? What would you tell them if you were in a...

- But I tell them, I tell them, whenever I encounter the youth, I tell them clearly. You can doubt everything we're telling you - I offer no advice - doubt everything we're saying, but you have to pay attention to two things. First, you must try to refute that which is being said by us through arguments, & in the process of looking for arguments to refute us, the truth will come out. It's the only thing I tell them. & second, never become slaves of your [own] outrage & of your exasperation for what is [around you]. Be exasperated, be outraged, doubt everything, but don't become slaves of your [own] outrage & of your exasperation. & something else that must be discussed here, because there's an ongoing attempt -also sacrilegious: so, if the bullet was deflected, didn't Alexis Grigoropoulos's death find place? Wasn't a life snatched away?

- Are you a pessimist;

- I'm always an optimist, but I do consider that, at this moment, we find ourselves at a turning point, a decline, we're at what the poet described as "evil's ultimate step." That's where we are. But I believe we shall overcome. What has to happen, though, for [us] to overcome is that we cannot go on using the old methods. We've-we find ourselves in a new era. Which new era is that? That the era where others were deciding for us is gone. We're at an era where we'll be deciding our fates on our own & with each other. (...)

- How did you feel when you saw a banner with 'Resistance' all over it a couple of days ago in Acropolis. From young people, university students...

- I felt proud, because I saw that the young people are putting in good use a symbol which has resisted for a total of centuries - [&] it managed to resist because it is the expression of humanitarian values, it's not solely [because of] the beauty it gives off.
That era has put forth certain humanitarian values. These are symbolized by Acropolis, & [through] the fact that these humanitarian values resisted through time, Acropolis also becomes a symbol of resistance. Consequently, this resistance must have been-it has been put to good use by these young people, & I felt proud they did so.

- What do you have to say to the parents afraid of their kids being currently in the streets, of what's happening, of whether they're in danger & why?

- I know of no such thing, their parents being afraid.

- What would you say to a parent these days?

- But, up to this point, I've had no parent tell me "I'm afraid". I didn't, at least. I've had no [such] parent. I believe that the situation would be horrifying, if the parents did not want their kids to go [to protest demos etc.]. What I believe is that they let their kids go to achieve what all of us failed to do. What we didn't achieve to do. We achieved to liberate Greece [a reference to the german occupation during WWII], but we didn't achieve to make it independent [a reference to the degree to which greece has been dependent on the american hegemony], we didn't achieve to make it as democratic as needed, & we didn't reach a solution to its social problems. This is something we have to confess.

Her steps took her, on Tuesday [9 December] afternoon, to the graveyard of Paleo Faliro for Alexis[' funeral], while, every Saturday & for 23 years, she's been going to Zografou where she said the final goodbye to [her son] Michalis [Kaltezas] in November 1985. "I buried Michalis once again," Mrs. Zoi Kalteza tell us & her voice catches from emotion. On Sunday morning, turning on the TV, time rolled backwards. She had not watched the news on Saturday night & she thought that they were discussing her son without an apparent reason. Unfortunately, the next few minutes proved that this was not the case. History was repeating itself. Exactly in the same tragicomic sequence.

A 15-year-old in Exarchia square & a policeman that snatches life away from him without a reason. That was Michalis. That is Alexis. "I was speechless after this unjust murder. Not the same old again. As far as I'm concerned, I was being told [of the event] by a reporter who sought me out. He didn't tell me immediately that he was killed. There had been some unrest & I had to go to [the] Evaggelismos [hospital] where he lay wounded. There, in a room, the revealed [the truth] to me. I collapsed." Mrs. Kalteza speaks about the unjust loss of her son, about an apology that was never offered, about a justice that was never served, about the murder of Alexis, about his mother...

- Did you know that he'd be going to the protest march on the occasion of 17 November? [In 17 November 1973, & while the colonels' junta was still in power in greece, university students barricaded themselves inside the Athens Polytechnic protesting the junta, only to be mowed down by a tank who invaded the Polytechnic; protest marches on 17 November are organized ever since throughout greece.]

- No. They'd be going to Kefalari with his friend Nikos & others. In the end, they didn't manage to meet each other, & while his father & I had been waiting for him since 18:00 - he had left the house at 13:00 - until 23:00 & [even] 01:00, me pacing in & out of the balcony wrapped up in a blanket, a young gentleman came by taxi & I went to Evaggelismos. He had never been in a protest march before. He probably did do because he didn't manage to meet his friends. They said he threw something to the policemen. Was this excuse enough for them to kill him? The bullet entered [his skull] right under the right ear. The wound was blind. He had been so beautiful that morning. Maybe because he'd.. leave. He was a kid without malice.

- Was Michalis an anarchist?

- A few days after [the murder], his friend Nikos went [to meet the anarchists] & asked them whether they knew him, whether they had seen him before. They told him they were seeing him for the first time &, in fact, thought that he had been planted by the police. Anarchists attended his funeral & his 40-day memorial service, but they came as proper gentlemen & left as proper gentlemen. What we're witnessing these last few days did not happen [back then] notwithstanding the amount of people.

- What happened at court?

- The policeman who killed my son was found innocent. Two & a half years on parole & he stayed in jail for under a year. Is that what my son was worth? When the verdict was being announced in the second trial [where Athanassios Melistas, the murderer, was found innocent], I didn't go. To [do what?] listen to the policemen clapping [in approval]? It was already clear what would happen. [Alexandros] Lykourezos [currently one of greece's highest-profile lawyers] turned Melistas into an innocent person & what did he get out of it? To me, he didn't direct a single question [during the trial]...

- Did somebody ever apologize?

- No apology, no compensation - although I wouldn't accept it [eve if it were offered], what I needed & need is my son & not money, not even [the expenses of] his grave. We also paid for that. Only in the first trial, when they were bringing in Melistas, he looked at me & whispered "I'm sorry". But then he [went &] claimed that he shot form on top of the police truck. & how did the bullet follow an upward & not a downward trajectory as it should if he had shot from high up?

- Have you excused them?

- If I didn't have my daughter, I'd have become Papadosifos number two. [In 1988, Ioannis Papadosifos killed his son's murderer, Ioannis Venierakis, in the courthouse.] She's the one that kept me... I had to go on for her & for my husband. He, even to this day, doesn't want to talk [about the murder], it doesn't do him good. I've been, I'm strong by nature. nevertheless, when I was going to or coming back from workk, I was crying. How could I persevere having lost my son so unjustifiably & unexpectedly?

- Do you hate them?

- I feel no hate - only outrage.

- What made you go to Alexis' funeral?

- I didn't even think about it. I went spontaneously. As if I had to go. There was a lot of people & I walked into the graveyard. I'll go, though, another day, later on, to carry some flowers for the child & give Michalis greetings...

- Are there any words that you could tell to Alexis' mother?

- I wish there were. A nail in her life for a lifetime. Any strength [she can muster] will be found in her other child, but the empty spot cannot be filled... &, above all, to shut her ears towards anything that will be said about her kid. They has also said a ton about Michalis, even that he was lodging with his grandmother in Liosia [instead of with us], while none of his grandmothers was alive, & so many more... To justify an unjustifiable death!

- Would you like to meet her?

- Yes. But mush later on. She's now living through the world's greatest grief.

- What gives you strength today?

- The eyes of my 8-months-old granddaughter, which are identical to those of my Michalis...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Riot Info #6

There have been at least 5 solidarity marches this Thursday, December 18: one in Oaxaca (the courage! read a short report here), one in Skopje (see a short video here), one in Berlin (update anyone?), one in Amsterdam (largely successful, it seems: about 200 people, wound through the city center, went through the Greek Tourist Office & the Police HQ (!)), & another one in Seoul.

Masked infiltrators arresting a demonstrator (TVXS team, TVXS, Thursday)
[click for the video; dedicated to those who are still debating whether masked infiltrators "actually exist" - you're soulless, spineless, & crawling on all fours in your own filth; plus you're doing the people of this country a disservice]

Solidarity from Northern Cyprus (sent via email)

Dear Alexis,
Dear Comrades of Synaspismos,
Dear friends,

On behalf of New Cyprus Party, we want to express our deep sadness for the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos...

For more than a week, the Greek Youth especially, but not only the youth, but also a huge number of Greeks are on the streets to demand to get their future back. As YKP, we would like to send our warm solidarity message to all of you who fight for the future, who fight for another Greece, another Europe with all the Cypriot languages, yaşasın dayanışma, ζήτω η αλληλεγγύη, long live solidarity.

We have received the SYN Youth message, which says that; “These neoliberal attacks do not occur only in Greece. Across Europe young people are attacked by them. The EU policies promote precarity in labour and living conditions, advance the model of “Fortress – Europe” against migrants, and back up war in the name of “anti-terrorist crusades”. Young people across Europe must fight together against the policies that terminate our rights. We must fight together to take back our lives!”, so, we put our words and our hearts next to yours; may be not physically but all our feelings and dreams are with you...

We would like to inform you that, our Youth organization, YKP Youth and other youth organizations will organize a common demonstration, which was inspired by you, to condemn the police state policy of Turkey in the northern part of Cyprus (because the army and the police are directly under the control of Turkey) and show our solidarity to the Greek demonstrators, on 20th December in front of the Turkish Embassy in the northern part of Nicosia...

Once more, we send our solidarity message to all SYN members but especially to the brave young fighters who fight for all of us, for another Europe, against neoliberal policy, for more democracy, we are with you...

Comradely regards,

Murat Kanatlı
General Secretary of the Committee of YKP
On behalf of YKP and YKP Youth member

17 December 2008, Nicosia

These days are also ours... (Albanian Immigrants Infoshop)
[find the translation here]


We are soldiers from all over greece [it's necessary to not remark here that conscription is still active in greece & affects all males greeks; most or maybe even all of the people signing this are bound to be people who are serving their compulsory military service at the moment - not army recruits]. Soldiers who, in Hania, were ordered to stand against university students, workers & fighters of the antimilitary movement carrying our guns & a short while ago. [Soldiers] who are carrying the weight of reforms & of the "readiness" of the greek army. [Soldiers who] live every day through the ideological bullying of militarism, nationalism, unpaid exploitation & of submission to "[our] superiors".

In the army camps [we're serving at], we hear of another "isolated incident": the death, [caused] by a policeman's gun, of a 15-year-old called Alexis. We hear [of] it in slogans carrying over the camp's outer walls like a distant thunder. Weren't the deaths of three colleagues of ours in August also called isolated incidents? Wasn't the death of each one of the 42 soldiers who died in the last 3.5 years also called an isolated incident?

We hear that Athens, Thessaloniki & an ever-increasing number of cities in greece become fields of social unrest, fields where the outrage of thousands of youths, workers & unemployed is played out.

Dressed with army uniforms & "working attire", guarding the camp or running errands, [being] servants of the "superiors", we still find ourselves there [in those same fields]. We lived, as university students, workers & desperately unemployed, the[ir] "claypots", "accidental backfirings", "[bullet] deflections"; the desperation of precarity, of exploitation, of lay-offs & of prosecutions.

We hear whispers & insinuations from the army officials, we heard the government's threat, made public, about the imposition of an "alarm state." We know very well what this means. We live it through intensification [of work], increased [army] duties, extreme conditions with one finger on the trigger.

Yesterday we've been ordered to be careful & "keep our eyes open". We're asking: WHOM DID YOU ORDER US TO BE CAREFUL OF?

Today, we've been ordered to be ready & alert. We're asking? TOWARDS WHOM SHOULD WE BE ALERT?

You ordered us to be ready to impose a state of ALERT:

• Distribution of loaded guns in certain units in Attiki [where Athens is] even accompanied by the order to be used against civilians if they're threatened. (e.g. an army unit in Menidi, close to the attacks against the police station of Zephiri.)

• Distribution of bayonets to soldiers in Evros [along the turkish border]

• Instilling fear to protesters by moving platoon to peripheral army camps.

• Moving police vehicles to army camps in Nayplio-Tripoli-Korinthos for safekeeping.

• The "dopping" by the Major I. Konstantaros in the Thiva bootcamp concering the identification of soldiers with the storeowners whose property is being damaged.

• Distribution of plastic bullets in the Korinthos bootcamp & the order to shoot againts our fellow citizens if they move in "threateningly" (with respect to whom???)

• Positioning a special unit at the "Unknown Soldier" [statue] right across from the demonstrators on Saturday, December 13, as well as [positioning] the soldiers of the Nayplio bootcamp against the pan-workers demo.

• Threatening [the citizens] with Special Operations Units from Germany & Italy - in the role of an Occupation Army - thus revealing E.U.'s real, anti-workers/authoritarian face.

Police shoots targeting the present & future of social revolts. That's why they're preparing the army tot assume the duties of a police force & the society to accept the return to the army of the Reformers' Totalitarianism. They're preparing us to stand against our friends, out acquaintances & our brothers & sisters. They're preparing us to stand against our former & future colleagues at work & in school.

This sequence of measures shows that the leadership of the army-the police & the consent of Hinofotis (former member of the professional army, currently vice minster of the Interior, responsible for interior "unrest"), of the General HQ of the Army, of the entire government, of the E.U. directives, of the store-owners-as-infuriated-citizens & of the far-right-wing groups aim at utilizing the Armed Forces as an Occupation Army - aren't you calling us "peace corps" when you send us abroad to do the exact same things? - in the cities where we grew up, in the neighborhoods & the roads where we walked.

The political & military leadership forgets that we're part of that same youth. THhey forget that we're flesh from the flesh of a youth which is confronted with the desert of the real inside & outside army camps. Of a youth that's outraged, not subserviant; & most importantly, FEARLESS.


We won't accept becoming complimentary tools of fear which some attempt to instill over society as a scarecrow.
We won't accept becoming a force of repression & terror.
We won't stand against people whom we share that same fears, needs & desires/[the same] common future, perils & hopes with.


As a youth in uniform, we express our solidarity with the people who're fighting & we scream that we won't become pawns of the police-state & of state repression. We'll never stand against our own people. We won't allow the imposition of a situation in the army corps that will be bringing to mind "days of 1967" [when the greek army had his last coup d'etat].

A letter to our kids (, 'fathers & mothers who want to be 15 yers old again', Friday)

Together!!!!! For the present which burns & is being burned!!!

We owe this to you!!! We owe this to us!!

This letter could have been serious. Or sweet. Or patronizing... The truth is that this letter does not know what it wants to be. It's being written... It started in order to say "thank you."
A big THANK YOU to all of you. Who are keeping us alive. Who didn't let us, don't let us "forget" what we have been, what we want you to be. We grew up, it's true. & we got fatter. A bit,. OK, a lot... We started involuntarily forgetting. But we didn't die. We owe this to you. THANK YOU for this chasm that you forged into our present. It ties the past of our dreams with the future of your dreams.

We'd also like to say a lot. But, we realized this [by now], we must shut up & listen to you for once (this letter has the tendency to address you in first plural, it's probably dreaming)... We want to listen to you. We want to listen closely & to learn. To learn again [how] to dream. To make you proud of us for once. To build an army of dreamers together with you...

Look what you've done... you've made us talk incoherently... like 15-year-olds: To build together with you an army of dreamers which will be multiplying dreams. Because dreams multiply once you believe in them like you [did]. & they can kill a dreamer, but they can neither kill nor incarcerate a dream. Because the dream has already taken flight. & it's well-known to everyone that dreams don't roam the skies for nothing, no, the dreams have a very clear destination: to lodge in somebody's heart. & there have always existed, exist & will exist those who embrace them, make them their own & multiply them. You're the living proof of that. Thank you. For embracing Alexis's dreams. Your own dreams. You allowed us dreaming again. Dreaming that the dream of a better, different world has not been lost. We need you. We're afraid of saying it-the world will turn on its head... we're the ones who have to be strong. But we're not...-, but we need you. Not [as in 'I need] my own kid['] but WE [need] YOU-this letter is crazy, it insists on [using the] plural.

We've believed in that other world, that better world. We're still craving it. It remains that we invent it. Without you, we [just] can't. With you, on the streets, we've learned to win against our fear. Our silence. Out numb comfort. Help us...

P.S.1: We're not an all-encompassing generic subject [-] "parents". We're specific men & women who're being shaken to the core by your momentum.

P.S.2: Don't badmouth our bald spots & our fat. A line must be drawn: We'll get angry... Better badmouth our fear. & teach us how to win against it. By doing so, you'll also learn something. &, all together, we'l build a new world. WE BELIEVE YOU!!!!
P.S. 3: We nearly forgot the biggest THANK YOU: for the flames sparked by your outrage which light the city's streets up with forgotten words & dreams. You're presenting us with the gift of the brightest New Year's Eve. THANK YOU!!!